I'm not sure how this has happened exactly - I don't think any one particular change or industry issue caused it - but, over the last 18 months or so, I'm getting the feeling advisers and insurers believe protection is the most important area in the market.
Before those of you making money out of group pensions or investments start screaming "rubbish" in this direction, let me explain...
We all know the savings and investments market has taken a hit from the recession (by the way, is it credit crunch or recession? Are they the same?). With interest rates so low, why bother investing in a savings account at present?
Additionally, we all know the mortgage market has been hit really hard by the turbulent times we're all trying to cope with and that there are now fewer mortgage deals and re-mortgages happening.
The pensions market still has most of the issues it endured pre-stakeholder. There are still too few incentives for consumers to buy, and contribute to, a pension in the UK without an employer-sponsored amount. Stakeholder pensions flopped. Ned Cazalet says there is no money to be made through personal accounts. The recession has hit pension savers too... unless you happen to be a CEO of a bank it seems.
Has protection become the most solid segment of the market, almost by default?
Protection business has fallen too... but not as much as it could have according to numbers coming from the ABI for protection sales in 2008.
Sales of mortgage-related protection products fell by less than the fall experienced in the mortgage/re-mortgage market in 2008.
One other possible trend developing is more advisers could be focusing on family protection rather than just mortgage protection.
Are advisers starting to get more value out of the same number of customers by focusing on their family's protection needs as well? Sales of income protection products are up too... not much, but it's still an increase. There's also the potential opportunity the PPI replacement market could bring, although for some that's more of a problem to solve than an opportunity.
This might be wrong. It may just be a hunch and we'll need a few years worth of statistics to show a trend has developed. But if I'm right, how can we protection people make the most of this potential opportunity?
Andy Milburn is head of marketing at Munich Re (UK Life)IFAonline
Joined as head of strategy, multi asset, in June
Group income protection
Nine in 10 do not have income protection
Set to become part of Single Financial Guidance Body